Turn any surface into a touchscreen

@CNNMoneyTech August 2, 2012: 10:27 AM ET

REDMOND, Wash. (CNNMoney) -- This is part 4 of CNNMoney's series looking inside Microsoft's research lab.

You can play Angry Birds on your phone, laptop, tablet and TV, but how about your living-room wall?

A startup called Ubi Interactive is developing a technology that utilizes the Microsoft Kinect to allow any screen -- or even a projection on a wall -- to become a touchscreen. The software-and-Kinect combo senses when a finger touches a surface, and allows the user to click, drag, drop, scroll, and perform all the expected functions of a touchscreen.

That means you can hurl birds at pigs almost anywhere. Naturally, the world's most popular game was one of the demos that Ubi CEO Anup Chathoth built into the company's test software.

Chathoth worked with Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) engineers at the company's Redmond, Wash., headquarters for the past few months as part of an exclusive "Kinect accelerator" program. Ubi was one of 11 startups chosen.

The selling point of Ubi's technology is that touchscreens are useful but incredibly expensive -- particularly large ones for meeting spaces or in-store displays. But many businesses have projectors or televisions already set up in conference rooms. Those could soon become touchscreens with a Kinect, which costs about $150, and Ubi's software.

Having a large touchscreen handy will become increasingly important as businesses migrate to Windows 8, Microsoft's touch-based operating system. Though Windows 8 will still work with a keyboard and mouse, it enables a batch of new apps and features that work best with touch.

Ubi's technology works well, but when it's used with a projector, the shadows created by your hand can be a bit off-putting.

It took a little getting used to, but with a bit of practice, I found that flinging birds across a wall became second nature. To top of page